Gettin’ off the Ground: Contemporary Stories from an American Community (6)

April 26
 - June 26, 2015
An exhibition featuring storytelling techniques to encourage dialogue on relevant issues in the South Bay/Harbor community and shared history.
Works by
Crystal Z. Campbell, Walt Cronin, Suzanne Mejean, Hung Viet Nguyen, Eddo Stern, and Eliot Yasumura

Over the next two years artwork will be selected on an ongoing basis that employ storytelling techniques to encourage dialogue on issues relevant to the South Bay/Harbor community and/or shared history. The artworks encourage us to think about our lives and how we communicate our story with each other.

Opening reception: April 26, 2015, 2-5pm

Crystal Z. Campbell
Witness (film still)

Crystal Z. Campbell (b. 1980, Prince George’s County, MD) is a mixed-media artist of African-American, Filipino and Chinese descent, working in 16mm film, sound, performance, sculpture, drawings, ceramics, light and photographs. Campbell’s works investigate the politics of witnessing and the struggle for subjectivity within social and historical narratives. Campbell frequently uses cues from abstraction and minimalism as tools to suggest perceptual shifts in the reading of a narrative event.
A former social worker and graduate of the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture, her works have exhibited at Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Philadelphia, Fondazione Ratti, Studio Museum of Harlem, Children’s Museum of San Diego, Project Row Houses and de Appel Arts Centre amongst others.
Campbell was a Van Lier Fellow at Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program from 2010­-2011 and completed the Rijksakademie van beeldende Kunsten in 2013. Recently, Campbell was a Sommerakademie fellow at Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland. Campbell lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Walt Cronin
Window Pain

As a musician, Walt Cronin has recorded several albums that address the aftermath of life in America for Vietnam veterans with post-traumatic syndrome (PTS). For Cronin, this painting is an abstract of his interpretation of looking through a window frame onto his view of post-traumatic stress. It is estimated that 7 – 8% of the population will have PTS at some point in their lives.

How might you support a friend in the community who has PTS?

If you have PTS, how would you want someone to be supportive of you?

Walt Cronin is a singer-songwriter of Americana, Folk and Country music living in Los Angeles, CA. Cronin was born and raised in Oak Park, IL a suburb of Chicago and relocated to California in the late 70’s. He received his degree in Human Behavior at Newport University. He trained for four years with Dr. Arthur Janov, the founder of Primal Therapy to become a veteran counselor. His interest was to work with the returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at local vet centers. He worked as a video producer with his own business for many years in the Los Angeles area. Having been a navy corpsman (medic) with a marine platoon in Vietnam in 1970, Cronin was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He has become a veteran advocate through his songs that are based on life in America after returning from the Vietnam War. He is an anti-war activist and a member of Veterans For Peace. Cronin has performed his music at various veteran events such as Returning Soldiers Speak and the Art of War to bring about awareness of post-traumatic stress and to encourage the younger generations to seek the help that had been denied for many years to him and his fellow veterans when they had returned from war. He is currently working on a 5th music CD. He has been married for 25 years and He was just recently accepted through a veteran arts program to study at the Art Institute in Chicago in the spring of 2015.

Suzanne Mejean
Still Here

Wanting to better understand how military families cope with the deployment of loved ones, Mejean, began photographing families throughout the US. The families all had large prints made of parents, primarily fathers, which were attached to cardboard known as Flat Daddies. Flat Daddies function at the intersection of what can be imaged and imagined. For children and their families the imaged “reinforcement” is meant to provide a seamless visual transition between the endpoints of deployment. There are many questions that come up for military families using Flat Daddies with the most serious being what to do with a Flat Daddy when the serviceman does not return, or returns with injuries that contradict the imaginary wholeness of the picture. The War on Terror is one of the longest wars that the US has fought and as a resultmany parents are deployed for several consecutive tours.

In what ways do you think the use of the Flat Daddy is an important way to keep alive the memory of a deployed soldier?

How might a parent answer questions a child asks about a parent who does not return from war or returns injured?

Suzanne Mejean is a documentary editor currently based in Los Angeles. Originally from New York, Mejean relocated to L.A. in 2006 and received an MFA in filmmaking from The California Institute of the Arts, where she also taught a course on the subject. She has spent the last 5 years working in the field of independent documentary and public media programming. Her work has screened both nationally and internationally, at The Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art, The University of California’s Hammer Museum, The Berlinale, SXSW Film Festival, HotDocs Festival, Outfest and The American Documentary Film Festival. Additionally her recent work on KCET’s program, “Artbound” received an Emmy nomination in 2014.

Hung Viet Nguyen
Coastal Sensation # 34

Life seems to be intertwined with death, and while they seem to contradict each other, it is a necessary balance that is maintained in nature. This installation is contains three different series, each showing the cycle of life associated with survival: big fish eating little fish, observing the wonder of the world before us, and new growth from an ancient pine.

Which of the paintings do you like the most?

In what way could that painting illustrate a particular experience you have had in your life?

Hung Viet Nguyen was born in Vietnam in 1957. He studied Biology at Science University in Saigon, Vietnam, then transitioned to working as an illustrator, graphic artist and designer since settlement in the U.S. in 1982. He developed his artistry skills independently, studying many traditional Eastern and Western forms, media and techniques. Nguyen’s complex, labor intensive investigations of oil paint reveal a methodical mastery of texture. While portions of Nguyen’s work suggest the influence of many traditional art forms including woodblock prints, Oriental scroll paintings, ceramic art, mosaic, and stained glass, his ultimate expression asserts a contemporary pedigree. Nguyen’s paintings have been exhibited at galleries, cultural art centers, and museums, juried by museumcurators [ Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Laguna Art Museum (LAM), Museum of Contemporary Los Angeles (MOCA), Museum of Latin America Art (MoLAA), Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA), Riverside Art Museum (RAM), Torrance Art Museum (TAM), UCLA Hammer Museum of Art ].

Eddo Stern
Vietnam Romance

Vietnam Romance is a multi-leveled computer game about the history, culture and memories that exists around the Vietnam War. Under theslogan “If you hated the war, but liked the movies, you’ll love this game”, the game follows a veteran back to Vietnam in four levels. Stern blends Hollywood fantasy with history to generate an experience that blurs the lines between the realities of a brutal war that defined a generation, with the gamer experience.

A veteran might feel a range of different emotions as they return to a former battlefield.

Can you recall a time when you returned to a place of trauma?

How might you describe that feeling to a friend?

Eddo Stern works on the disputed borderlands between fantasy and reality, exploring the uneasy and otherwise unconscious connections between physical existence and electronic simulation. His work explores new modes of narrative and documentary, experimental computer game design, fantasies of technology and history, and cross-cultural representation in computer games, film, and online media. He works in various media including computer software, hardware and game design, kinetic sculpture, performance, and film and video production. His short machinima films include “Sheik Attack”, “Vietnam Romance”, “Landlord Vigilante” and “Deathstar”. He is the founder of the now retired cooperative C-level where he co-produced the physical computer gaming projects “Waco Resurrection”, “Tekken Torture Tournament”, “Cockfight Arena”, and the internet meme conference “C-level Memefest” He is currently developing the new sensory deprivation game “Darkgame”. Online at

Eliot Yasumura
Deportados (NYE 2014)

There are no firm statistics but people estimate that there are around 300 – 500 deported veterans living in 19 countries including Ghana, Bosnia, Ecuador and Mexico. These vets are often legal residents whoserved in the military and got into trouble with the law upon returning home. Many of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

How do the images that Yasumura selected tell the story of the veterans?

In what way can you emotionally relate to the story?

Can you recall a time that you were separated from something that means a lot to you?

Eliot Yasumura served as a rifleman with 3rd Battalion 1st Marines on three deployments to Iraq between 2003-2006. He received his B.A. at Pitzer College, double majoring in Religion, Politics, & Global Violence and International & Intercultural Studies. After a year in Indonesia on a Fulbright Research Grant, he received his M.A. in Conflict, Security & Development at King’s College London. He is currently an MFA candidate at Art Center College of Design. 

Exhibitions are supported in part by Sencee Tagami, Exceptional Children’s Foundation, Department of Cultural Affairs – City of Los Angeles, Boeing Employees Community Fund, Marymount California University, Laser Cutting Shop, Aldo Puicon, Adam Gaxiola, The Getty Foundation, The Ahmanson Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, Pile Drivers, Bridge, Dock and Wharf Builders – Local Union 2375, Harbor Rose Lodge, Art Center College of Design – Photography & Imaging Department, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fed Ex office – Central Ave. Branch, Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, John S. Meek Company, Historical Archive Preservation Committee, Local Union 2375, Don Wright, Phoebe Barnum, Steve Robinson, Johnny Reb’s, Buono’s Pizzeria.